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The recently knighted head of AstraZeneca says he would not “do anything differently” despite acknowledging there had been “setbacks” with the vaccine developed with Oxford University.
Research released in June 2021 suggested Vaxzevria – more commonly known as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – is associated with slightly increased risk of some bleeding disorders.
AstraZeneca’s chief executive officer Sir Pascal Soriot, who was knighted last week for services to UK life sciences and the response to Covid-19, told the BBC the jab had saved one million lives.
“I don’t think I would do anything differently from what we did,” he added.
The French-Australian admitted there had been “setbacks” as part of the process.
“We decided to do it at no profit, we decided to partner with a network of partners around the world to scale up manufacturing,” Sir Pascal said.
“Despite the setbacks, we delivered three billion doses (of the vaccine) and saved a million lives,” he said.
“When you launch yourself in something like this, which is a huge undertaking, you have to accept that you will have setbacks.”
The Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was approved in the UK in December 2020, and jabs were initially rolled out among the older and the most vulnerable in society.
Sir Pascal, who has been chief executive at the Anglo-Swedish firm since 2012, served as chief operating officer of Roche’s pharmaceuticals division from 2010 to September 2012, and before that he was chief executive officer of Genentech, a biologics business, where he led its merger with Roche.
In late April the company said it expected revenue from its Covid-19 medicines to fall by a fifth this year as demand wanes.